Dry bones

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Cross at sunset

By Tom Wiles | For The Times-Post

The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” “O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

Ezekiel 37:1-14

Faced with multiple trip hazards and a something less than “not great” visual appearance, I knew I had to take action.

The years and a recent construction project left our back patio pavers in need of some tender loving care.

Virtually every paver had to be removed.

The base underneath had to be releveled, a process dduring which the bricks were strewn around the yard as if hit by a bomb.

Slowly but surely, these scattered pieces came together to form a revitalized patio and walkway.

Ezekiel stood there looking at piles of human bones stretching across an entire valley floor.

God asked him if these bones could come back to life.

He knew enough to defer to God for that answer.

After being instructed to do so, Ezekiel spoke to the bones.

The rattling echoed off the canyon walls and the bones reconnected with muscles, flesh and skin right behind them. Then, the wind came. The breath of life.

They all stood, a great army. This, God told Ezekiel, is what I’ll do for my people.

Slowly, but surely, this world with its lies, deceptions, evil, disappointments, false gods, cruelty, bitterness, broken dreams, betrayals, death, destructive solutions and the like leads us all into the valley of dry bones.

We rattle around looking for distractions, scrounging for meaning and purpose.

We try to convince ourselves we have it all figured out, and yet our own guilt and shame remind us otherwise.

Into this valley, Jesus’ voice resounds, “I have come that you might have life and life to the fullest.”

People, patience and a Promise

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

2 Peter 3:1-18

As we raced down to the lakeshore, we could see the boat fading into the morning mist.

The hum of the motor gradually grew silent and there we stood, left behind.

Clearly, to the guys we were attempting to go fishing with, 7 a.m. meant 7 a.m., not 7:04 a.m.

In their defense, they made it clear to my dad that they would not wait for us.

With every pull of the oars, I was reminded that our close to 7 a.m. thinking was a bad idea.

Peter was well aware of the ridicule and mockery that Jesus’ followers were experiencing: “What happened to that promise of Jesus coming back? Nothing’s changed.”

He reminded them of the power of the Lord’s command.

To create. To destroy. He will command again.

When he does, judgment fires will fall.

It will be unexpected.

It will be deafening.

It will be final.

These days between Jesus’ visits are the last days. Our days.

His love compels him to be patient. He doesn’t want anyone to be destroyed.

“The end of the world is coming soon!!” is not just a phrase scrawled on a piece of cardboard by a wild-looking guy.

It’s what Peter told believers in Jesus, the simple truth.

For thousands of years, many from every generation have looked around and seen the signs of the end of the world.

Were they all wrong?

Nope, they were all right.

It’s time to simply embrace that truth and live accordingly.

With God’s help … pray earnestly.

Love deeply.

Share generously.

Speak boldly.

Serve sacrificially.

Praise continuously.

Restoration

Come let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In such a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. — Hosea 6:1-11

There it was. The 1953 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster — the first year-ever Corvette.

Starting in mid-1953, only 300 of them were ever built (hand built) in Flint, MI. It was amazing to see. Many have been lost over the years and those that do exist need to be completely restored, sometimes starting with only the VIN tag.

Needless to say, it’s now an extremely rare and expensive classic with very few people capable of restoring them to its original beauty. Hopefully, next time, I’ll get to drive it!

As Hosea was writing to the people of Israel, he had a very different and far more significant restoration in view — the restoring of the collective soul of his people.

The repudiation of their covenant with God had left them an absolute disgrace. They were under God’s discipline and were nearing their complete collapse.

Hosea’s shouts of “Return to the Lord!” fell on deaf ears. Still, he pleaded for them to know him. He promised God’s healing and restoration if only they would turn from their wickedness.

One old hymn contains the foreboding and familiar lyric, “prone to wander Lord, I feel it.” God knows all about our wandering hearts.

It’s why he sent Jesus to rescue us. We are the lost sheep who have gone astray.

We don’t have to live in the wilderness of hopelessness, shame and woundedness. He invites us to himself in order to do life with him.

With Hosea, may we say, “O, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of the dawn.”

He alone restores souls.

It will be done

The day is near when I, the Lord, will judge all godless nations! As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you. All your evil deeds will fall back upon your heads. — Obadiah 1:1-21

Once our children were old enough to begin to mentally process their behavior, our correctional conversations changed.

When they chose to exercise their will in a direction that was unacceptable, we would simply let them know that they had discovered a bad idea.

We encouraged them to think it through, “Why would feeding my baby sister raisins be a bad idea?”

If appropriate, we would have these conversations with the other siblings present. They could then be taught without speaking directly to them.

Obadiah the prophet wrote one of the one-hit wonders of the Bible, a book with only one chapter.

It was a word of God’s judgement upon a nation who brutally oppressed God’s people.

He was acting in keeping with his promise to his people that he would “bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.”

God’s message, although directed to someone else, reminded his people that he remains faithful to his promises even when they are not faithful to theirs.

Paul, in one of his letters to his protégé Timothy, reminds him, “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”

God’s faithfulness is simply a part of who he is.

When he makes a promise, it’s simply a done deal.

Our unfaithfulness does not inform or impact his faithfulness in any way.

When he promises to discipline, we can expect discipline.

When he promises to never leave nor forsake us, we can expect his presence.

What joy is ours, even in a world of fine print; Jesus is true always and forever.

Tom Wiles is senior minister of Fall Creek Christian Church in Pendleton. He can be reached at 765-778-3166.

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